CR Asks Whether New Volvo XC90 Is A True Luxury SUV With Only 4-Cylinder Engines

Unlike many automakers who tend to describe their products as “all-new” even though they only feature minor changes, Volvo has the right to call the latest XC90 SUV all-new, because that’s exactly what it is.

Consumer Reports’ Mike Quincy fully agrees with that assessment, but is that enough for the latest Volvo XC90 to be considered a luxury SUV?

Well, the interior is definitely worthy of the luxury tag, with the reviewer describing it as “wonderfully appealing.” The tested model featured the optional air suspension system, which translates into soft body motions – something expected of a luxury car.

However, the fact that the XC90 is offered exclusively with four-cylinder engines may be a problem for some buyers, who associate big luxury SUVs with V6 and V8 engines. While the XC90’s four-cylinder engine does its job well, it’s not as smooth and doesn’t sound as good as a V6. That and the XC90’s price may represent turn-offs for customers.


  • TheHake


    • Akira

      It’s true though… Those ultra boosted small displacement engines never get the claimed fuel economy… And don’t get me started with the plug-in hybrid. So it’s not for economy. They sound… like a 4 banger so it’s not for driving pleasure. And we know that those engines don’t last long, so it’s not for reliability. I would prefer to have a V6 or even better a V8 when I pay 67000$ for a SUV.

      • They never get the claimed fuel economy – true, also true for any other engine. However they do get much better fuel economy than V6 and V8 engines. Try to prove otherwise with the real-life data of Spritmonitor (Google it). I don’t know about the petrol engines, but I drove the new XC90 D5 (225hp) and it’s rapid quick and the board computer showed a shocking 7.3L/100km average consumption. That’s 32.22 MPG.

        The hybrid version is there to take short city trips each day on electricity alone, and only use the petrol engine for long trips. You could go without fuel for weeks even, depending on your daily use.

      • KF

        The XC90 starts at a very well quipped 48k and one can’t really tell how the reliability for the engine will look like.

      • Wingineer

        If anyone knows how to do turbo’d and boosted small engines, it’s Volvo.

        They’ve been making them since the 80’s and everyone who owns a Volvo knows the last thing to ever break on a Volvo is the engine or the turbos- they last forever.

        I used to own a 250HP 5 cylinder turbo charged Volvo S60. I averaged 24 mpg in regular driving.

        A heavy car from the year 2004, that was pretty good.

        And that 5 cyclinder…beautiful sound.

  • Time for 21st century dear Americans!

    • Gregg Matthews

      As a dear American, I have no issues with 4 cylinder engines, but when a V6 gets better fuel consumption and performance (Acura MDX), I’ll go with that.

      • The AWD version of Acura gets 21MPG officially, XC90 gets 30.5 MPG with 30 more HP. That’s enough to propel it from 0 to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds and reach 230 km/h (140 mph). How is that Acura better?

        • Gregg Matthews

          Not sure which engine you’re referring to, hybrid?

          • It’s the base petrol engine now, T6.

          • Gregg Matthews

            Volvo is 20/25. Don’t know where you’re getting 30.5. Acura will sprint to 60 in 6.2.

          • KF

            The XC90 T6 has actually very good real life mpg, i’ve seen 30 as well.

          • Where are you getting it from? I got it from the official source (

            7.7 liters / 100km, is 30.5 MPG, but even your quoted 25 is way better than 21. Acura has 113 mph top speed, the Volvo has 140mph, these are in two different categories. Acura is down on torque, it’s down on power, it takes ages to get max torque and it’s thirstier. I can’t see how the stone age Acura engine is better in any way other than sound than the one in Volvo.

          • Gregg Matthews

            OK, this is it for me. Comparing “Murican” sites: Volvo 20 city, 25 highway. Acura 19 city, 26 highway. Wash. Acura reviews I’ve read, 0-60 5.9 to 6.2 seconds. Volvo reviews 0-60 6.1 seconds. Wash. Volvo little more luxurious, Acura cheaper. Wash. Acura probably more reliable.

          • Wingineer

            I didn’t check the Acura, but the Acura isn’t a competitor.

            It is smaller, it is less luxurious, it has less technology, and it no way looks better.

            Likewise, it is not on the same price range.

            Sorry man.

  • Transpower

    The Volvo is nothing compared with the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

    • KF

      Let’s see:
      The Porsche has 16 more hp then the XC90 but 0.3 seconds slower then the XC90 0-62 mph. Emissions for the Porsche are 79 g/km, 30 g more then XC90 which emits 49 g/km. And the new XC90 is the only 7-seater PHEV SUV in the world. Combined fuel consumption for the Porsche is 3.4 L/100 km, that’s 1.3 L more then the XC90.

      So yes, it’s nothing compared…just a tad better.

      • Transpower

        The rough 4-cylinder in the Volvo IS nothing compared to the very smooth V-6 in the Cayenne. Also, the Cayenne undoubtedly has a much better skidpad score and much better reliability than the Volvo.

        • I wouldn’t be so sure about the reliability. The V6 sounds better for sure, but then again, you pay an incredible extra for that, while in all other regards the Porsche is worse than the Volvo.

  • R1S0

    yeah, because you really need that v6-v8 to drive 40-60mph, drive to the store or pick up kids from school…..

  • Yocs

    I have owned an Inscription for 2 months. My luxury vehicle is as fast off the line as my audi q5 v6. And I’m getting 27-28 mpg on the road.

  • Grumpy

    The interior is no doubt luxurious. Damm fine.

  • stet

    thank you

  • Usatecwrkr Calif

    Volvo’s 4-Cylinder (ONLY) “strategy” will prove to be a mistake. Asking a stressed-out little engine to move (for instance) a heavy (albeit, beautiful) XC90, raises questions about the long-term durability and reliability of this precipitous design. AND, it doesn’t even accomplish its alleged fuel economy goals. In a comparison test in the current issue of Car and Driver, the 2016 Volvo XC90, gets the SAME MPG (17 MPG) as the better Audi Q7, which has a relaxed 6-Cylinder engine, and is 400 pounds heavier! C&D Also raises questions about the long-term reliability of a turbocharged AND supercharged little 4-Cylinder engine in such heavy vehicles as the Volvo XC90.

    • Joe

      I don’t think so. Just because the engine is a small displacement does not mean it is going to be stressed out. Volvo makes excellent engines that have proven to be very reliable, and the old red block engines in the 240/740/940 cars were only a 2.3L 4-cylinder, they pulled the cars around fine for hundreds of thousands of miles.

      I would not even compare Audi engine reliability to Volvo, they are on opposite sides of the spectrum. That Audi engine has twice as many cam seals to fail, twice as many cam shafts, adds balancing shafts and many more things. More companies should be going the way Volvo is, but it’s going to take time for the ignorant people to accept driving 4-cylinder cars. In 10 years we will be laughing at V8s and other inefficient engine designs.

  • liquorguynyc

    I test drove the XC 90 shortly after it was released. I thought I had found the holy grail in SUVs, i.e. beautiful design, seating for 7, excellent cargo space, European drivability and is relatively low-key. The XC 90 checked most of the boxes, but the engine was awful. It sounded like a lawnmower and there was some very noticeable turbo lag.

    I really wanted to love this car, but for $50+ K this needs to have a silky smooth six cylinder engine, which can be naturally aspirated for all I care. The four just doesn’t cut it.

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